By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — More than 90,000 people are expected to visit the Twin Cities to watch some of the best in college basketball compete in just 85 days.

For NCAA Final Four organizers, this is crunch time. They’re planning events for fans that are expected to come from across the globe.

Before crews began breaking down from Super Bowl LII, Minneapolis police were already engaged in a safety plan for NCAA Final Four.

“For us, it’s just as big as Super Bowl. It’s a shorter time period, but the security needs are just as great,” Commander Melissa Chiodo said.

Commander Chiodo says the Minneapolis Police Department will work with law enforcement partners from the metro area to keep people safe.

“We will be using a lot of local officers, nothing from outstate Minnesota this time, and also we don’t have the federal support or resources this time so you are not going to see any National Guard,” Chiodo said.

But what you will see is city employees, from public works to regulatory services, all pitching in to help make the NCAA Final Four a fun and safe event.

The local organizing committee for the Final Four is coordinating more than 2,000 volunteers.

The Read to the Final Four program has third graders from both Minneapolis and St. Paul public schools and 70 districts outside the Twin Cities metro area reading.

“They read just over 3 million minutes so far. That’s much more than we expected, it’s much more than we’ve seen before,” Cordell Smith said.

Smith says the program gives kids an opportunity to be a part of a March Madness-style reading competition.

“The top 68 schools that have read the most will be entered into a bracket-style tournament where they will read, and they will read against other schools and see who can read the most,” Smith said.

The momentum is building and talk of what fans can expect is coming.

Next Wednesday, officials will share details about events for Final Four weekend.

We will learn what fans will have access to and if Nicollet Mall will once again be turned into a super fan experience hangout.

Reg Chapman